The Icarus Project is a support network and education project by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness. We advance social justice by fostering mutual aid practices that reconnect healing and collective liberation. We transform ourselves through transforming the world around us.
The tragedy at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston is another event demonstrating the relentless racism against Black people, who are disproportionately targeted by police brutality and social violence. White people must participate in fighting racism and ensure that dialogue about this event centers the experiences of being Black in anti-Black America.
One of my friends said, what should we do? Should we have regular red flag check ins with each other, the way we do about relationships? Should I go up to you and ask, Have you been thinking about killing yourself lately? And I thought, if anyone came at me saying, HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT KILLING YOURSELF LATELY?, I'd automatically lie and say hell no. The way I have to every single doctor, social worker and most therapists in my life. I don't want anything I can prevent on my permanent record, and I definitely don't want Danger to Self or Others. I've been fighting this my whole life, and I've seen the oppression and hardness that that label can mean to folks in my life who've had it.
But if you normalized it. Because it is normal. This secret. That so many of us wrestle with suicidality. Then maybe, maybe just maybe I'd tell you where it was at.
And maybe we could map the terrain of those ideation places better.
We’ve made a lot of progress over the last decade in the coalition of recovery and radical mental health movements. Now it’s time to work harder to embrace a diversity of experiences and perspectives within our movements. We need to think hard about why certain stories are privileged, and whom we may not be hearing from at all. Those most marginalized at the intersections of extreme distress and disadvantage are the least likely to be heard. When we’re not careful, those of us with more privilege—including by virtue of experiencing less debilitating forms of distress— wind up speaking for folks whose experiences are not much like our own.
The Icarus Project has long been associated with the Mad Pride movement, though individual members may or may not associate themselves with the word Mad, or feel any particular sense of pride in relation to experiences of what might be called madness. Organizationaly, The Icarus Project has edged away from the language of Mad Pride, in an effort to be inclusive of those who may not identify as Mad.
This week for Throwback Thursday I’m dredging up an old post from when I was the Icarus representative at a SAMHSA meeting in Washington DC and we made a bunch of new movement friends. This was around the time of our 5th anniversary and we were in the midst of a lot of interesting organizing on college campuses, working out of the office at Fountain House in New York City, and using the language of Mad Ones and Mad Pride a whole lot. Icarus has always managed to stay on the outside of the government money non-profitworld, trading some amount of legitimacy and exposure for keeping our messages radical. This is an interesting post because it documents the confluence of a bunch of activists who have yet to end up in the same room again. I wonder what the future holds?